Spend more time with [one's] family

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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by JANE DOErell » Sun Mar 12, 2006 4:16 pm

This phrase persistently shows up in US news media when someone is forced from their position or public office. Its usage ranges from a forced retirement to flat out being discharged, fired as we say.

There is another case this week. A rapidly rising young man in the judicial department, once nominated for a federal judgeship, was caught as a common thief and the official news conferences reported that he had resigned his position to "spend more time with his family".

How and when and where did something so blatantly disingenuous come to widespread usage?
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Mar 12, 2006 8:31 pm

Jane, I just love this one. Many of these guys are actually resigning to spend more time in jail!! Talk about disingenuous! These time-honored parting words did not appear in any word and phrase dictionaries that I checked, so the best I could do was look for the earliest example of its use in this less-than-candid, weasel-worded way.

There are, of course, many legitimate cases of wanting TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH THE FAMILY. American humorist Will Rogers provided one of the earliest examples I could find when he expressed this sentiment in a 1929 interview of his weariness of doing Ziegfeld shows 52 weeks a year for six years straight. The honest use of the expression seems to have taken off in the 1930s, but the earliest possibly disingenuous examples that I could find did not appear until the 1950s. But after that, the examples I found were too numerous to mention, as they say. The real reasons behind this euphemistic explanation for resignation – actually being forced out of a job – range from having a disagreement with higher-ups to being caught in out-and-out acts of criminality.

The following were found in the New York Times archives with examples appearing using HIS/THEIR/MY/THE FAMILY. I really got a big chuckle out of many of these (e.g. the indicted police chief - 1983 quote below - who, in his resignation letter, is stepping down TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY. Yeah right, chief!
<1956 “However, he said, the principal one [[reason to resign]] is a desire TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY. . . . There was some reason to believe the resignation . . . might have been spurred in part by differences with the Federal Reserve Board . . . ”—‘New York Times,’ 1 May, page 1>

<1957 “The governor said he thought ‘we ought to take the Senator (Knowland) at his word’ about retiring from the Senate to come home and SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY . . He disclosed, however, . . . their discussions of a possible Knight-Knowland battle next year.”—‘New York Times,’ 31 March, page 63>

<1972 “Joel J. Silver, a city housing official who was under fire by the City Council for awarding a contract to a political ally, resigned yesterday form his $27, 954-a-year post. . . Mr. Silver said he was leaving his post . . . TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY.”—‘New York Times, 18 May, page 48>

<1973 “‘They’ve collected more than $1-million and we hear there are 52 different bank accounts . . .’ Mr. Statile, a retired businessman, maintains that he is resigning as chairman TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY. . . He insisted there were ‘no problems’ with fiscal disclosure.”—‘New York Times,’ 12 February, page 60>

<1983 “Stephen Durham, the head of Denver regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned today. He had been accused of reversing staff environmental findings and of failing to push for Federal cleanups of identified toxic waste sites. . . They charged he had loaded his staff with political appointees, shuffled veteran scientists out of key jobs and stalled enforcement actions. . . . He said he was resigning to pursue interests in the private sector and SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY.”—‘New York Times,’ 26 April, page A19>

<1983 “Chief [[of police]] Darden, 57 years old, surrendered to the authorities last Tuesday after the sealed indictments by a Federal grand jury were opened last Monday. . . On July 30 he announced that he would resign Sept. 6 TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY. A spokesman at the chief’s office said that he was not accepting telephone calls.”—‘New York Times,’ 17 August, page A14>

<1995 “When Dr. Bruce Siegel resigned abruptly as head of the Health Hospitals Corporation on Tuesday, he was under investigation after allegations of sexual harassment, several city and hospital officials said yesterday. . . He said . . . that his ‘letter of resignation speaks for itself.’ That letter said he was leaving TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY, . . .”—‘New York Times.’ 31 August, page B1>

<2002 “Baxter, who left Enron last May for the same official reasons Jeff Skilling did in August — "TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY" — had complained internally to fellow execs about the company's risky accounting practices, and was mentioned prominently in Sherron Watkins' fiery letter to then-CEO Ken Lay.”—‘Time Magazine,’ 25 January>

<2006 “There’s no quicker way to get a smirk in Washington than to leave a $161,000-a-year White House job, without having something new, and say you're doing it TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY. That's what Claude A. Allen, President Bush’s domestic policy adviser, told his bosses before he resigned in February.”—‘Time Magazine,’ 11 March>
Ken G – March 12, 2006
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:11 pm

.. Jane you will be pleased to know that our good, honest, faithful public figures Downunder also get these urgent rushes of, usually, paternal instinct and race off to spend more time with their family .. it is akin to another much more noble expression of getting out of the spotlight and that is to fall on one's sword which generally means you just made the decision before you were pushed onto your sword by your internal enemies ..

WoZ of Aus 13/03/06
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by tony h » Mon Mar 20, 2006 9:39 am

The phrase "spend more time with the family" is the public response to the private question of "and how is your graden?", suggesting that the person should need to spend more time on their garden, to "gardening leave" and possibly a tie-up with that equine state of "put out to grass"
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:42 pm

Tony, Never heard the expression before and am not quite sure what GARDENING LEAVE is. Would you agree with the following definition by Wikipedia - possibly one person’s opinion, and the spelling error does no instill confidence - and, if not, how would you change it? And also, could you run through again how you tied this in to SPEND MORE TIME WITH THE FAMILY.
_____________________

GARDENING LEAVE (British English) is a phrase used to describe the practice whereby an employee who is due to be leaving their job is sent home for the remainder of their period of employment whilst remaining on the payroll. This is usually done in an attempt to protect sensitive information, particularly when the employee is transferring to a rival company.

For example, the term is frequently used in Formula One motor racing to describe what happens when valued tecnical [sic] staff choose to move between teams. In an attempt to protect proprietary information about performance and design from falling into competitors' hands the engineer in question is placed on gardening leave, sometimes for many months, to ensure that when he is finally able to join his new employer his knowledge is no longer current.

Contracts within the sport will normally include a very lengthy notice period (several months) to ensure that gardening leave is a practical and possible option.
_____________________

Ken G – March 20, 2006
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by tony h » Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:34 pm

The usual usage for it here is during a period of employment. It occurs (especially in public service organisations : government, police, health service etc) when somebody does something which requires them to be removed from office while their conduct is investigated, particularly following a charge of professional malpractice, or press interest dies down.
The boss would broach the subject of the period of enforced holiday with a question like "how is the Garden?" - there is a classic example of this in the BBC series "Yes, minister". I have only met one person who actually used this phrase; the subsequent state of being "on gardening leave" is well used.
The tie in with the original phrase comes about in the press release which states "Mr. X has decided to spend more time with his family"; I suppose abandoning affairs of state for the family is seen as plausible whereas abandoning them for the sake of your garden does not.

I note that Chambers substantially agrees with the definition in Wikipedia but certainly all general usage here is "extended holiday on full pay" to allow an investigation to conclude or adverse comment to die down.


Hope this helps
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:36 pm

That's just about right Ken. Someone who has embarassed the employer and is not required in work is also given gardening leave.
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:03 pm

Thanks, Tony and Bob. I think I have a pretty good feel for the phrase now. GARDENING LEAVE - I like it!

Hows this?:
<Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is on gardening leave and is contemplating spending the next 25 to 30 attending to is beloved plants.>
Ken G - March 20, 2006
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:46 am

.. Ken .. Abramoff may even complete a PhD in Botanical Science specialising in grassing ..

WoZ
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:14 am

He'll make hay there, reaping what he has sown.
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:30 am

One wonders what sort of leave the Chelsea FC groundsman may be offered if the pitch is considered over-Saharan. Which is just my excuse to quote Rory Bremner's apocryphal quote from Jose Mourinho ... "Our pitch - not grassy enough? We'll have it dug up and replaced with gravel. Then we can win on aggregate."
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:22 am

But would that get Chelsea anywhere, speaking concretely?
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:50 am

They could reinforce the midfield.
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:43 pm

Would that strengthen their prospects enough to allow one to beton the result, I wonder?
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Spend more time with [one's] family

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:42 am

It would certainly ruin the Flower Show.
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